What Next For Antonio Tarver, Lateef Kayode?

boxingBy James Slater - Antonio Tarver and the unbeaten Lateef Kayode gave us an entertaining battle last night in Carson, CA, and the two cruiserweights with such contrasting styles should meet again. The draw pleased nobody, least of all either fighter, yet “Magic Man” Tarver, who has some magic left but not too much, said post-fight that he doesn’t think he’ll face Kayode again.

So what will the 43-year-old former light-heavyweight king do next? One thing I certainly think Tarver, 29-6-1(20) should NOT do is get in a ring with either Klitschko brother. Tarver has said for some time now that he feels he can defeat a Klitschko and bring a heavyweight title back to America. In light of how slow he looked at times against the crude, raw Kayode, and in light of how he was far from hard to hit, with the right hand especially, Tarver would surely get annihilated by either Wladimir or Vitali..

No, Tarver, if he does carry on with his ring career, belongs where he is: at cruiserweight. Capable of only fighting in bursts, Tarver still carries some serious clout in that left hand - and at times last night it looked like he might stop Kayode - but has the ageing southpaw got enough pop to be able to trouble the granite-chinned Vitali, or the less sturdy, but still-at-his-peak Wladimir? No way.

A Tarver-Kayode return, with another stacked under-card, similar to the one we got last night, would probably sell for Showtime. Kayode, with his power, his aggression and his quirky attitude (talking to his corner during a fight, showboating and smiling and grinning during a big fight) will have fans tuning in for his next fight. Again, the 28-year-old Nigerian may be raw and crude, yet he is, simply put, fun to watch. Against another big name cruiserweight, be it Tarver in a return or someone like a Denis Lebedev, a Marco Huck or a Yoan Pablo Hernandez, Kayode would likely attract a decent audience.

Maybe one day the thickly-built Kayode, who stands 6’2” may make the move up to heavyweight himself. Freddie Roach certainly has a rough diamond he can polish and turn into a world class fighter.

For what it’s worth, I had Kayode, now 18-0-1(14) just doing enough to win last night’s entertaining scrap, by a single point. A rematch makes sense for a number of reasons. Aside from a big payday against the Klitschkos, where else can Tarver go apart from back to his commentary job?

Article posted on 03.06.2012

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